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One Supreme CourtSupremacy, Inferiority, and the Judicial Department of the United States$
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James E. Pfander

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195340334

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195340334.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 September 2021

Supremacy and the Supervisory Power

Supremacy and the Supervisory Power

(p.25) 2 Supremacy and the Supervisory Power
One Supreme Court


Oxford University Press

This chapter concentrates on the meaning of supremacy and its close association in the minds of the Framers of the Constitution with the supervisory powers of King's Bench in England. These supervisory powers were what William Blackstone had in mind when he referred to the high and transcendent power of King's Bench to issue the common-law writs of mandamus, habeas corpus, and prohibition, among others. Differing from appellate jurisdiction, these supervisory writs enabled the court to direct the progress of litigation in inferior tribunals, to correct errors when necessary, and to confine the lower courts within the bounds of their proper jurisdiction. The chapter shows that these supervisory powers were incorporated into the remedial arsenal of supreme courts in America and were understood to form a part of the judicial toolkit of the “one Supreme Court”identified in Article III of the Constitution.

Keywords:   King's Bench, William Blackstone, Article III, supervisory powers, mandamus, habeas corpus, prohibition

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